The Impact of Drug & Alcohol Abuse on Child Visitation Rights
August 10, 2015
In a child custody and visitation case, courts try to determine what is best for the children. The goal of the courts is to allow children to have a relationship with both parents. In cases where one parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol, courts must balance the safety of the children with the relationship between the children and the addicted parent.
The Danger of Addiction
Addiction to any substance is a major barrier to unsupervised visitation between parent and child. Substance abuse limits the parent's ability to adequately supervise the children and can impair decision-making skills. There may be a concern that the parent would drive with the children while under the influence of substances or expose the children to criminal associates. The parent may leave the drugs or alcohol accessible to the children or possibly allow the children to try the drugs or alcohol.
In cases where drug or alcohol abuse is suspected, the court can order the parent to undergo a drug/alcohol screening. If it is positive, the court can order the parent to undergo treatment and counseling as a condition of visitation. Typically, if there is proof of continued drug or alcohol abuse, the court may order any visitation be supervised, either by a trusted family member or by a professional supervisor. In some instances, the visitation may be suspended if the parent tests positive for substances before a visit. As the parent shows continued sobriety, the court may loosen restrictions on visitation, slowly allowing longer and longer visitation.
In a visitation case involving drug or alcohol abuse, you will need to have good documentation of your concerns. An experienced attorney can help you determine how drug or alcohol abuse impacts visitation issues in your particular case. Each case is different, and an attorney can help you understand the issues involved in establishing, modifying, or terminating visitation.